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Tuning Up Your Hiring Plan
There have been times when I've walked into an organization that appears to be a turbo-charged "hiring machine." They have a steady applicant flow, lots of hiring activity, and a busy, busy, busy HR team.
On the surface, everything appears primed for success as the company career site is welcoming and the application process is smooth and user friendly. Job advertisements are captivating and candidate communication is front and center. Since the company gives lots of attention to the candidate journey, it seems likely they've also created a well-defined process for the interviewing and hiring phase.
Alas, as I've often learned when lifting the hood of that souped-up "hiring machine," there are some engine parts in need of a tune-up. The warning signs ("check engine?") may include:
- drop off in the number of viable candidates
- numerous no-shows at various stages of the interview process
- increasing number of candidates declining job offers
- high turnover within the first 30/60/90 days
The key to successful hiring is making sure that every component along the continuum is fully aligned - from workforce planning ("Should we even open this requisition? What are the business-critical skills we need at this time?") all the way through to offer accepted/employee pre-boarding.
But if you need to make some adjustments to your hiring process, here are a few areas in which to run some initial internal diagnostics:
Make sure that you have well-defined hiring criteria for each open role including the requisite skills and behavioral competencies/attributes required. You may find a simple job review, update, and job description re-write suffices. If hiring for a job that is rarely available - or a position currently held by a long-tenured incumbent - a more robust job analysis may be appropriate.
Formulate a plan for HOW you'll gather information from candidates; after all, you'll be accumulating lots of data. For optimal results, structure your data gathering (including asking applicants the same questions) to provide for both legal compliance and consistency. After all – it's impossible to evaluate 10 applicants if you have 10 varied sets of data and incongruous information!
Managers play the most crucial role in the process; they are, of course, the individuals making the hiring decisions. In addition to their involvement in determining hiring criteria, training managers on HOW to interview is critical. (Ideally, this training goes well beyond a handout listing "questions not to ask.")
Parameters for Decision Making
Finally, there should be a standardized manner by which hiring decisions ("is this applicant a 'go' or 'no-go?'") are made. Instituting a candidate-assessment model that enables fair evaluation and rating of applicants will both reduce manager-bias and decrease the likelihood of poor hiring decisions.
Implementing a well-designed hiring process is a start but following a maintenance schedule (and committing to regular adjustments and tune-ups!) keeps the engine running smoothly.
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